Of all the films Tati made, The Illusionist has to be his most personal film. The fact he didn’t make the film make the film brings an irony to this. Wanting to reconcile with one of his daughters, Tati wrote a screenplay about a magician who forms a friendship with a teenage girl. Due to unknown reasons, the film didn’t come into fruition. That is until Tati’s daughter Sophie hands the script over to Sylvain Chomet. There was no more perfect person to adapt a Tati script. With his Oscar-nominated film The Triplets of Belleville, he demonstrated a similar knack of minimal dialogue, surreal environments and minimalist humour. In his second feature length film, Chomet proves he’s more than able to capture the magic of a Tati film.
Magician Tatischeff magician routine has trouble finding relevance in 1959s Paris. What chance does he have against rock n’ roll bands. He already has enough problems trying to control his aggressive, meat eating rabbit. When he does get work, he has trouble getting anyone to pay attention to him. That is until one wedding gig when a drunken Scotsman invites him to perform for an island Scottish village. Through this gig, he attracts the eye of naïve teen Alice, who believes he’s a real magician. When she follows him to Edinburgh, Tatischeff takes on the position of reluctant father figure for Alice.